by Warren Bird
The latest multisite research affirms that the growth of “one church meeting in two or more locations under one overall leadership and budget” shows no signs of slowing down. Yet even as the movement continues to expand, many significant themes are developing in how churches do multisite.
Overall the news is optimistic: Multisite churches grow faster, have more lay participation and reach more new believers than single-site churches.
These findings are featured in the Leadership Network/Generis Multisite Church Scorecard, a major report releasing in March, which draws from a huge Leadership Network survey and is also supplemented by two other major studies. Key points will be forecast over the next several issues of this publication.
Impact of Multisite – By Broadest Definition
• 5 million – the number of people who worshipped at a multisite church last weekend in the United States alone, according to the National Congregations Study sponsored by Duke University
• 8,000 – the number of multisite churches currently found in the United States, according to the same study. (The wording of that survey allowed churches to call themselves multisite if they had multiple venues–such as services in the sanctuary, chapel and gym, but all on one campus.)
• 9% – the percent of all Protestant churchgoers who attend a multisite church
• 3% – the percent of all Protestant churches that are multisite
• 80% – the percentage of US states that have known multisite churches. Over 40 have known multisite churches, as do Washington D.C., Canada’s 9 largest provinces, and several dozen other countries, all according to Leadership Network’s database and its list of global megachurches.
Multisite as Door Opener
Multisite has opened new doors for leaders such as those at The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC.
A member of one of Summit’s six locations was serving a needy family in a neighboring city. As the relationship developed and the person being helped expressed an interest in attending church, the Summit member was able to connect them to a Summit campus closer to home.
“It was a good example of one church reaching out across a larger metropolitan area to meet needs,” says David Tran, one the Summit’s pastors. “Our congregation really gets the vision of the church to be a Gospel-centered community that is here to reach people and bless our city.”
J.D. Greear, Senior Pastor, adds, “We can bless people when we are closer to them. That’s why we plant campuses—to bring the ministry closer to home. The entire church gets excited about it and gets behind it,” he concludes.
Largest-Scale Multisite Research to Date
To learn more about the still-burgeoning multisite movement nationwide, Leadership Network conducted what is likely the largest cross-denominational survey of multisite churches, limiting to a stricter definition of churches with separate campuses. It included Leadership Network multisite clients (44% of our client base is multisite, averaging 3.6 campuses and 4,542 in attendance—all significantly above the norm of other multisite churches) as well as many additional multisite churches, both on this continent and around the world. Usable responses came from 535 churches across 12 countries (91% USA, 4% Canada, 3% UK, 4% other)—together representing 1.8 million in weekly worship.
The survey asked 185 different pieces of information, plus it offered many places for “optional comments.” This wealth of information led to all kinds of new discoveries. Plus we compared many of the responses against previous versions of the survey.
As one multisite leader put it, “We’ve seen thousands saved throughout our multiple locations.” Not all have had results on that scale, but enough spiritual fruit is happening to fuel a steady increase in the number and size of multisite churches.
Our hope and prayer is that this information will help your church’s planning—whether you’re already multisite, considering a shift to multisite, or simply wanting to understand the movement better. If this is a totally new concept for you, don’t overlook it: the movement’s continued growth projects that if there’s not already at least one multisite church in your community, there will be soon.
The Leadership Network/Generis Multisite Church Scorecard report covers additional topics such as how multisite churches start, how multisite churches are staffed and funded, how multisite churches balance in-person vs. video teaching, and growth challenges for multisite leaders. Download it here.